Golf course subdivision approved
CHESTERFIELD, N.H. — For nearly six hours on Monday night, the Chesterfield Planning Board discussed four applications, two of them asking for subdivisions of property on Spofford Lake. At just before midnight, the board closed its meeting with one conditional approval and three applications continued for discussion on June 1.
The applications included a food truck on Route 9, a new parking lot for the FedEx facility on Coachman Road, a subdivision of Pine Grove Springs Golf Course and the demolition of Spofford Hall with a cluster of of five houses erected in its place.
Bob Maibusch, president of Pine Grove Springs Golf Course, started the subdivision process in August 2019. In his 2020 letter to shareholders, Maibusch wrote the subdivision was necessary to "proceed with marketing the golf course for sale ..."
Maibusch wrote that according to professional opinion, the subdivision should have been "a relatively easy thing to accomplish," though he was aware the town of Chesterfield has "a reputation for being difficult to deal with ... our attorney has been surprised at the level of obstruction that has been placed in the path of completion."
Maibusch is not proposing building houses on the lot. Fieldstone Land Consultants has presented an in-depth plan that includes stormwater management and covenants that prevent future landowners from making alterations that affect the lake.
On Monday night, the Planning Board issued a conditional approval of the application.
"This project is a good model of what the town should want for development around the lake," said Chad Branon, chief engineer for Fieldstone. "We've been articulating for months and many meetings that this project will benefit the lake."
Branon said the plan, which includes rain gardens and swales to "pre-treat" runoff will keep pollutants out of Spofford Lake.
"There is a reduction in flow leaving this project," he said.
Corliss presented a list of conditions that will also need approval before the application is approved. Fieldstone was asked to make some changes and corrections to the site plan application and come back before the board on June 1 for a public hearing.
"We are pleased that our team of engineers from Fieldstone and our attorney, Patricia Panciocco, were able to present a plan, confirmed by the Town’s independent third party reviewer, that exceeds all the necessary requirements and will result in responsible development and, ultimately, an improved environment around Spofford Lake and that the town of Chesterfield Planning Board has given it conditional approval," said Maibusch after the meeting.
SPOFFORD HALL DEMO ON TAP
The fate of Spofford Hall, which was shuttered in 1995, had been on hold for a number of years.
It was built as a rehabilitation facility in 1980 by John Chakalos, of Windsor, Conn. Chakalos, who also had a home in Chesterfield, was shot dead in his Windsor home on Dec. 20, 2013. His death remains unsolved, though his grandson, Nathan Carman, of Vernon, was named as the main suspect in Chakalos' death. He was never prosecuted.
In 2014, the Chesterfield Zoning Board voted 3-2 to grant a variance to Nine A LLC to build five homes in the Spofford Lake District. The Chesterfield Board of Selectmen appealed the Zoning Board's decision to the court, contending that the five-lot cluster development on six acres violated the Lake District's zoning ordinance. In December 2018, Sullivan County Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker issued a ruling that denying the Board of Selectmen's appeal.
Nine A LLC is made up of the surviving daughters of Chakalos. A fourth daughter, Linda Carman, is presumed lost at sea after her son Nathan's fishing boat sank off the coast of Block Island in 2016. Carman was found floating in a life raft about 10 days later with no sign of his mother. Linda Carman's sisters have accused their nephew of murdering his mother, whose estate is in limbo due to the controversy.
On Monday night, the Planning Board learned removal of the building and a parking lot will reduce impervious surfaces by 55 percent.
Jim Phippard of Brickstone Land Use Consultants, told the board that impervious surfaces currently take up three acres of land. He said if five new houses are built with a shared private road, that coverage will be reduced to 1.7 acres.
"I don't think we have ever seen a plan that reduces runoff this much," said Planning Board Chairman James Corliss. "It's quite impressive."
The Planning Board also learned Nine A LLC is willing to purchase a fire truck for the Spofford Fire Department rather than installing a water storage system for fire suppression.
"Either way, both systems are a lot of money," said Phippard.
Steve Dumont, the chief for the Spofford Fird Department, told the Planning Board that residential cistern storage systems are not optimal.
"They are not maintained for many years and when you try to use them at a critical time, they don't work," he said.
Dumont said a fire truck would be better suited to the needs of any new homeowners and structures already around the lake.
"A fire truck benefits every property in Spofford," agreed Phippard.
The Planning Board agreed to consider the proposal and will discuss it more on June 1.
Once the application is approved, 9A Llc will hire contractors to remove asbestos and deal with a mold problem in the building.
"Then the real demolition begins," said Phippard. While some of the metals in the building will be sold as scrap, the remaining materials will be buried as solid waste at an approved landfill. "None of it will be retained on site. It's not going to be buried or used as fill."
FOOD CART PROPOSAL
Mary Johnson, of Putney, Vt., who is asking to open a food truck in a paved area on the north side of Route 9 at its intersection with Stow Drive, was also back before the board on Monday night. The previous Monday, May 11, Johnson learned her application to establish a business in conjunction with an existing commercial enterprise was not complete. On Monday night, she got the same message, mixed with concern from the Planning Board about the existing use of the parcel.
Currently, Westfield Construction occupies the spot, but the board was at a loss figuring out what exactly Westfield uses the location for. Apparently, noted several members of the board, there is no site plan on file for the location.
"In order for that property to be developed there needs to be a site plan and an approved use," said board member Jon McKeon. "If not, then there shouldn't be anybody on that property."
Board member Joe Brodbine said the permit process needs an existing business for her to "piggy back" on to.
"We do not have a site plan that this can piggy back on," said Brodbine. "I hate the thought that a full site plan is required for a food truck, but that's the way the ordinance it written."
"Without the site plan, we can't proceed further," said Jeanny Aldrich, chairwoman of the Chesterfield Board of Selectmen.
Johnson was asked to return on June 1 for it to consider either a site plan or a request to waive the site plan requirement.
FEDEX TO EXPAND
The Planning Board also took another look at a plan to add nearly 200 parking spaces to the FedEx distribution facility in town. FedEx says it needs to expand the employee parking lot in response to a demand that has grown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As you would expect, the on-line shopping volume has exploded recently due to the COVID 19 virus," states a use intensity statement submitted by SVE Associates. "The delivery volume is similar to a typical Christmas volume."
FedEx, which currently has 65 employee spaces at 40 Coachman Road, expects that even when the pandemic tapers off and is declared over, online shopping will "forever remain at elevated levels." The existing parking spaces will be converted into delivery van parking spaces.
Rob Hitchcock, with SVE, noted that a new septic system and stormwater retention basins will also be installed under the new parking lot.
The Planning Board will continue to discuss the proposal at its next meeting.
Bob Audette can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.